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The Bride’s Dead
by [?]


Only Farallone’s face was untroubled. His big, bold eyes held a kind of grim humor, and he rolled them unblinkingly from the groom to the bride, and back again. His duck trousers, drenched and stained with sea-water, clung to the great muscles of his legs, particles of damp sand glistened upon his naked feet, and the hairless bronze of his chest and columnar throat glowed through the openings of his torn and buttonless shirt. Except for the life and vitality that literally sparkled from him, he was more like a statue of a shipwrecked sailor than the real article itself. Yet he had not the proper attributes of a shipwrecked sailor. There was neither despair upon his countenance nor hunger; instead a kind of enjoyment, and the expression of one who has been set free. Indeed, he must have secured a kind of liberty, for after the years of serving one master and another, he had, in our recent struggle with the sea, but served himself. His was the mind and his the hand that had brought us at length to that desert coast. He it was that had extended to us the ghost of a chance. He who so recently had been but one of forty in the groom’s luxurious employ; a polisher of brass, a holy-stoner of decks, a wage-earning paragon who was not permitted to think, was now a thinker and a strategist, a wage-taker from no man, and the obvious master of us three.

The bride slept on the sand where Farallone had laid her. Her stained and draggled clothes were beginning to dry and her hair to blaze in the pulsing rays of the sun. Her breath came and went with the long-drawn placidity of deep sleep. One shoe had been torn from her by the surf, and through a tear in her left stocking blinked a pink and tiny toe. Her face lay upon her arm and was hidden by it, and by her blazing hair. In the loose-jointed abandon of exhaustion and sleep she had the effect of a flower that has wilted; the color and the fabric were still lovely, but the robust erectness and crispness were gone. The groom, almost unmanned and wholly forlorn, sat beside her in a kind of huddled attitude, as if he was very cold. He had drawn his knees close to his chest, and held them in that position with thin, clasped fingers. His hair, which he wore rather long, was in a wild tangle, and his neat eye-glasses with their black cord looked absurdly out of keeping with his general dishevelment. The groom, never strong or robust, looked as if he had shrunk. The bride, too, looked as if she had shrunk, and I certainly felt as if I had. But, however strong the contrast between us three small humans and the vast stretches of empty ocean and desert coast, there was no diminution about Farallone, but the contrary. I have never seen the presence of a man loom so strongly and so large. He sat upon his rock with a kind of vastness, so bold and strong he seemed, so utterly unperturbed.

Suddenly the groom, a kind of querulous shiver in his voice, spoke.

“The brandy, Farallone, the brandy.”

The big sailor rolled his bold eyes from the groom to the bride, but returned no answer.

The groom’s voice rose to a note of vexation.

“I said I wanted the brandy,” he said.

Farallone’s voice was large and free like a fresh breeze.

“I heard you,” said he.

“Well,” snapped the groom, “get it.”

“Get it yourself,” said Farallone quickly, and he fell to whistling in a major key.

The groom, born and accustomed to command, was on his feet shaking with fury.

“You damned insolent loafer–” he shouted.

“Cut it out–cut it out,” said the big sailor, “you’ll wake her.”

The groom’s voice sank to an angry whisper.